Finnish Court OKs Censorship Of Anti-Censorship Site

from the 'stop-pointing-out-our-failures!' dept

Government entities are irony-proof, especially those most humorless of government entities — the censors. Case in point: the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court has decided that the Finnish police did nothing wrong when it added an anti-censorship site to its blacklist.

Getting from point A to point Z is mildly tangled and somewhat humorous, especially from a distance (i.e. not being the site’s owner). Here’s what happened. In 2006, the Finnish government enacted legislation that added sites distributing child pornography to a national block list. All well and good, except that, as most censorship efforts do, it also blocked some sites not distributing child porn.

One Finnish citizen decided to track the sites which were being blocked illegally.

As the process of blocking the sites is done in secret and the list of blocked sites has never been officially made public, an individual, Matti Nikki, decided to create a site called (translates as child porn dot info) criticizing the secretive process and the fact that there’s no way to make an official complaint about one’s site being listed on such block list. He also hosted on his site a list of sites known to be on the list, but didn’t contain any child porn material whatsoever.

So, as government agencies do, it assumed a site with “child porn” in the name hosted child porn. It also looked at the URLs contained on Nikki’s site, compared them with its own list, and decided he was linking to child porn. Bang. Onto the list he went.

Nikki sued the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) for including his non-child-porn-hosting site on its block list. The first decision went his way, but not because he wasn’t hosting illegal content.

[T]he Administrative Court of Helsinki ruled that inclusion of his site was illegal on the grounds that the block list was meant to block only sites hosted outside Finland (whereas Nikki’s site was hosted and maintained in Finland).

But the higher court stepped in and overruled that decision, using an amazing amount of terrible logic.

The court found that as Nikki listed the links to the sites that are known to be included in the censorship list, his site was aiding people to find them. It found that even the fact that Nikki’s site contained material that was clearly legal (articles criticizing the censorship legislation), the interests of the children must come before freedom of speech. It also stated that if it were to rule Nikki’s site legal on the grounds that it hosts legal material, other child porn sites could also circumvent the legislation by adding non-child porn material to their sites.

That’s how that works out. No one bothered to verify whether all the sites on NBI’s list contained child porn — it was just assumed they did and that Nikki’s linking was illegal. Why? The second sentence explains it all.

“…the interests of children must come before freedom of speech…”

A completely legal site, one that pointed out errors in the NBI’s block list, was shut down for the children. Nice. And then the court went even further claiming that if it ruled in favor of Nikki, existing child porn sites could attempt to be taken off the block list simply by adding legal content. If that’s the case, the block list is a complete sham. Either a site hosts child porn or it doesn’t. If a site hosts child porn but adds an unrelated blog, it still hosts child porn. If that’s the standard for the block list, enforce it.

A site that doesn’t host child porn, but points to other sites being wrongfully censored, STILL DOESN’T HOST CHILD PORN. Enforce the rule. Don’t contort the rule just to shut down a site that criticizes NBI’s overblocking and then claim the censorship effort is in the “interest of children.”

If you’re against sloppy filtering efforts, you’re for abusing kids. That’s the message this sends.

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Comments on “Finnish Court OKs Censorship Of Anti-Censorship Site”

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Mark Harrill (profile) says:

Interests of Children

If they were truly interested in the children, they would organize a task force and authorize the money to go after the people who make child porn rather than blocking access to it. Oh but blocks has all the appearance of doing something without actually doing anything, passive agressive governance at its best

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Interests of Children

From what I understand, a lot of the child porn is created in the seedier places in the world where they don’t tend to give a damn about the children.

So you could go to the UN and demand that they to do something about it. Of course, the best the UN can probably do is write a strongly worded letter of condemnation toward the host country, and that’s on a good day.

Oblate (profile) says:

Re: Interests of Children

How is this even helping children? So we have a reduction in viewers of:
(Finnish population/World population)(% of Finnish population that are sick pedos)(% of Finnish pedos who don’t know how to use a web proxy) = ? (I’m guessing less than 100)

What they should do is redirect the IP addresses (verified, not using their current list) to a honeypot, so they can at least bust some pedos. It would probably be more effective than playing whack-a-mole with their blacklist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Interests of Children

If they did something effective, child abuse would stop and they wouldn’t be able to use it as an excuse to censor government critics. Like they did in this case.

They won’t bust pedos because the pedos give them an excuse to do whatever they want and shout down any opposition by painting them as supporting child abuse, when in reality they’re the ones supporting child abuse.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

The stupid! It burns!

It also stated that if it were to rule Nikki’s site legal on the grounds that it hosts legal material, other child porn sites could also circumvent the legislation by adding non-child porn material to their sites.

The court seems to be forgetting the fact that, uh, Nikki’s site doesn’t host child porn in the first place, so I really, really find it hard to follow the leap in logic this Finnish Court is making.

Even better is that this site is STILL available to everyone who lives outside of Finland (or knows how to use a basic proxy). Seriously. If you’re going to censor a site that’s located within your borders, at least do it properly.

Don’t just censor the site, shut the thing down completely! [sarcasm]It’s endangering the children all over the world![/sarcasm]

PaulT (profile) says:

“It also stated that if it were to rule Nikki’s site legal on the grounds that it hosts legal material, other child porn sites could also circumvent the legislation by adding non-child porn material to their sites.”

So what? Just make the rules clear. If the site contains child porn, it’s blocked. Doesn’t matter if the site contains 99.9% legal content with a special page just for the pervs – it still contains child porn no matter how much other content is added so the block is enforced.

If the site removes child porn, however, then it no longer contains child porn. Therefore, blocking it is unjustified and the block is removed. If the site then re-adds such material later, it’s blocked again. Either your site contains child porn and is blocked regardless of what else is there, or it doesn’t and remains unblocked. If this is clear, you can’t circumvent the legislation. the only way to legally route round the block is to not host child porn.

Why is this so complicated?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Relentless but sound logic: "his site was aiding people to find them."

Congrats, blue, unlike the previous story you managed to calm down enough to read entire sentences before trying to attack people based on wrong information. But you still have it wrong:

“He also hosted on his site a list of sites known to be on the list, but didn’t contain any child porn material whatsoever.”

The sites he was trying to find people find were the ones not hosting any child porn. Do you see the problem yet?

“I guess one possible solution is to protest the censoring without naming the sites”

I’m somehow not surprised that you support placing the entire burden of proof onto the innocent wrongfully accused while making it as difficult as possible for them to make their problem known. “Oh you can protest, just don’t name the victims whose situation you’re protesting!”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Goodbye due process

Allowing governments to block foreign traffic is bad enough, but to let them do so without a trial to determine the legality of the specific content in question is simply an affront to the concept of due process. How long before the courts are left out of the equation altogether and websites are blocked according to the edicts of copyright holders and police departments?

LOL says:


The guy should’ve done an extra mile, as in did what exactly he did (Nick) but mix in more legal public fin website stuffs that has no CP so their servers will also get auto-block, just to lulz at their blocking logic of even more non-CP fin sites and than watch it pyramid from there.

I heard you like to block websites, so I linked blocked websites to your not-yet-blocked-no-CP-websites.

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